In the recent case of Re T (a child)(murdered parent: contact between child and perpetrator), the High Court ruled that a parent who murdered the other parent should be entitled to make an application for contact with their child.
The father was convicted of murdering the child’s mother on grounds of diminished responsibility due to mental illness and was subsequently hospitalised under the Mental Health Act 1983. When granted leave from hospital by the Mental Health Tribunal (MHT) subject to conditions, he applied to the family court for contact with his child.
Although the judge did not grant a Contact Order, the ruling does clarify the position between family proceedings and proceedings before the MHT. It also determines that domestic violence or murder does not necessarily serve as an automatic denial of contact. The courts will determine the application for contact on the basis of the welfare checklist under the Children Act 1989. In this case murder is only one factor to be taken into consideration, albeit a very significant one.